On November 12th 2003, Ruby Tuesday debuted their
new "Smart Eating Menu." This was very good news indeed to the low carb community. This was the first
major foray by a National Restaurant chain into marketing "low carb" as a saleable commodity. The staff at
Low Carb Luxury Magazine couldn't wait to try it out.
I broke the ice first by visiting Ruby Tuesday for dinner with friends on the second night of their
new menu debut — knowing I'd be back the following night with Neil. We chose the
Huber Heights, Ohio location for both visits.
I was pleased to see the menu in place, and the staff well informed. In the center of the table, sat a
separate stand-alone menu that listed (with full carb counts and illustrations) their Smart Eating Guide.
As I opened it, I saw their introductory blurb on low carb and read it with much anticipation:
What a Low Carb Diet Can Mean to Your Well Being:
"Many medical experts believe that replacing highly refined, high-glycemic-index carbohydrates — the
kind found in white flour, white rice, white potatoes, and sugar — with the unprocessed, lower-glycemic-index
carbs found in non-starchy vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, is an effective way to protect your
health and to lose weight.
Millions of Americans are using best-selling diet books like Atkins,
South Beach, and Sugar Busters that advocate low-carb and good-carb eating regimens that
can stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels to make weight loss easier, protect against type 2 diabetes,
and lower the risk of heart disease. More than 30 choices on the everyday Ruby Tuesday menu are marked with
a low-carb symbol to help you follow a healthy diet plan. That's what I call Smart Eating!"
[signed] Ann G. Kulze, M.D.
Wow. This means they "get it." I tried to decide what to order to gauge their new low carb choices
fairly and give me a meal I could truly enjoy. I asked our waitress what was good and what others liked
from the new menu. She suggested I try the Low Carb Fajitas, so I went with her suggestion
and ordered the Steak Fajitas... (the same as their regular menu Steak Fajitas but without the beans and
rice, and served with low carb whole wheat tortillas instead of the usual white-flour variety.) You can have
these topped with Pepper Jack cheese for an additional 99¢ and I opted to do this. (This would bring them
to 22 net carbs for this dish if you ate all the tortillas provided... and I can't see why you'd need
so much tortilla. I ate half of them.)
Before our waitress came back with our food, the manager stopped by to ask my opinion of their new
menu and ask if I had any questions. She was helpful, responsive, and knowledgeable. I asked her if
I could get some additional information to take with me, as I'd like to be able to share my experiences
here in the Low Carb Luxury Magazine.
She brought me some brochures and some photos and told me she'd follow up with her district manager to see
what else they might have that would be of help. I'd told her I'd be back the following night.
My Fajitas arrived in short order and were actually quite delicious. They came with parchment wrapped
low carb tortillas that had been steamed to heat and soften them. I also got an order of their new
Creamy Mashed Cauliflower — a dish served in a long ramekin and seasoned deliciously. I asked for real
butter and covered the cauliflower with it, making it more appealing.
All in all, it was a very good meal indeed and I was ready for dessert. The waitress told me everyone had
been very pleased with the new low carb cheesecake, so I was ready for a treat.
Now, I should mention that
my dinner companions that night were NOT low carb and in fact ordered a piece of their REGULAR cheesecake covered
with strawberries. So when my rather naked piece of vanilla cheesecake came out next to their "twice-the-size
and covered in berries" cake, it looked a bit less appealing than it might have. But in truth, it was quite
good. Creamy; just sweet enough, and with a buttery nut crust that accented the vanilla.
I would suggest to Ruby Tuesday that they strongly consider offering a non-sugared berry topping for "our"
cheesecake selection as well, since strawberries are a low-sugar fruit and Atkins-approved. I had questions
about the cheesecake and they weren't sure of the answers, so they brought me the label from the boxes they
are shipped in. (See photo of label above. Click to enlarge.)
I left full and happy, and assured of the correct carb count of the meal I'd just eaten... not usually an
easy task when dining out. I looked forward to the next night.
Our second visit did not go as smoothly as the first, but I don't believe that to be indicative of any
real problem with this location or with the new menu. It seemed to be solely based on our having gotten
a waitress who was brand new.
On this night, the District Manager was on hand to speak with us and came over straight away to introduce
himself to Neil and I. He offered any help and assistance he could on behalf of Ruby Tuesday and indeed put
us in touch with corporate RT later in the week in Maryville, Tennessee. The manager who I'd seen the previous night was also available to help.
This time I felt it best to order an appetizer as well, and we opted for the Low Carb Chicken Quesadillas
with Spicy Chicken, Jack and Cheddar cheeses, and tomatoes. What makes it low carb are the low carb tortilla
they're made with. I asked for extra sour cream, and this dish was excellent. (11 net carbs for the whole
dish, but it's a lot for one person and Neil and I split it.)
For our entree, Neil and I both decided to try their new low carb wraps. He had the Spicy Chicken Wrap (9 net
carbs) and I had the Turkey Wrap (13 net carbs.) I wanted to try their new Creamed Spinach, so we placed
an order for that as well.
It's true the waitress had difficulty getting the right dishes to us, but again,
once we were served correctly, we found the food to be quite good for a newly debuted menu. Once we were taking
photos of the food, they brought us broccoli and cauliflower as well so that we could snap extra photos.
I needed photos of the cheesecake (and certainly didn't mind having some more) but was full, so we had that
"to go." Unfortunately, the waitress packed us up their regular cheesecake and that's what accompanied me
back to my house.
Would we recommend Ruby Tuesday for future dining and low carb fare? Absolutely. And we applaud their
efforts at bringing us low carb healthy options. Could they improve? Sure. Add more menu items, lower
some carb counts, and give us another dessert option. Even a dish of fresh strawberries with Splenda sweetened
whipped cream would be a great choice. But they're off to a great start.
(VISIT RUBY TUESDAY'S NEW SMART EATING MENU ONLINE TO LEARN MORE.)
Review content Copyright © December 2003 Lora Ruffner and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
Ruby Tuesday logo and menu content Copyright © 2003 Ruby Tuesday Inc., Maryville, TN.